Toano man accused of infant daughter's murder pleads not guilty

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

A Toano man charged with murder and child abuse in connection to the death of his 3-month-old daughter pleaded not guilty Friday in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

Bryan Timothy Arruda, 28, has requested a bench trial, which has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 11 in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

Arruda was indicted Sept. 20 by a grand jury on the two charges, online records indicate.

The grand jury indictment accuses Arruda of abusing the child on April 28, which resulted in her death.

If convicted of the two charges, Arruda could face up to 50 years in prison. On the second-degree murder charge, he could face between five and 40 years in prison, according to Virginia law. The child abuse charge carries a two-to-10 year sentence, if found guilty.

Arruda, who is being held without bond at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, has retained Michael Gaten as his attorney.

James City County Police found the child suffering from life-threatening injuries when they responded to a home in the 7600 block of Crestview Drive at about 3:30 p.m. April 28, police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams said in a news release.

Arruda, the child’s father, was home alone with the child at the time of the incident and told police that he drank six beers before the incident, according to the criminal complaint.

Arruda told police that his daughter was injured while he had left the room in a fall from an unsecured bouncy chair that was on top of a coffee table, the criminal complaint states.

However, VCU child abuse physician Dr. Robin Foster, board certified in child abuse pediatrics, pediatric emergency medicine and pediatrics, said she found evidence of multiple blunt force trauma with retinal hemorrhaging caused by shaking, according to the criminal complaint.

Foster said the baby’s injuries were not consistent with a fall from a bouncy chair, according to the criminal complaint, and that a severe force caused the injury.

According to a filing in Williamsburg-James City County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Gaten successfully motioned for Arruda to be evaluated to determine whether he would be competent to stand trial, and to determine his sanity at the time of the incident, saying that “based on certain factors, significant concern exists.”

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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